The days of the blood sample routine—arm out, make a fist, find a vein, and tap in—may soon be over, thanks to a new analysis method that requires only a pinprick of blood. A relatively new alternative to drawing blood from veins for analysis uses very small blood samples stored as dried blood spots (DBSs).
The DBS method requires only a pinprick to extract a few microliters of blood, which are blotted onto filter paper, where the sample, it has been found, remains stable. While DBSs have been gaining increasing popularity for the ease of sampling and storage for some time, they are still not a standard laboratory technique, and the process for using them has remained laborious—until now.
Biomedical engineer Aaron Wheeler and colleagues at the University of Toronto demonstrated the proof-of-principle that digital microfluidics could be used to automate the process of dried blood spot analysis. Droplets are manipulated onto the sample using electrical signals, and the material needed for analysis is extracted—all on a “lab-on-a-chip” with little manual intervention.
Full story at Futurity.
(Photo credit: University of Toronto)